As an artist, your time is precious. Not only are you a one person marketing team, accountant, designer, sales person, and more, but there’s a good chance you’re also working a full or part-time job. Oh, and you have a life. All this on top of the actual creation of art! This is why it’s so important to understand the target audience for your art.

Taking the time to know your target audience means you won’t waste time putting out the wrong marketing messages to the wrong people. It’s all a process, but you need to become more and more focused on the right people.

Determining a target audience for art presents some interesting challenges. It’s not always as clear cut as other types of products or services. It’s best to start broad (and don’t get frustrated) and slowly drill further down until you hit on insights that actually help you reach the right people.

You will take a huge leap forward by understanding the following about your audience:

  • Demographic. What is their age, gender, location, marital status, socio-economic status, education level, occupation, etc.? (not everyone in your audience will match all of these, but drill down as much as you can)
  • Psychology. What is their personality, attitude, values, interests, hobbies, lifestyle? Then, you can drill in more specifically to art. What motivates them to buy art? What type of art do they buy? What keeps them from buying art?
  • Online/offline “location”. What kind of media do they consume (tv shows, books, podcasts, magazines, etc.)? Where do they hang out online? What social media sites do they frequent? What blogs, publications, etc do they read? Do they go to art shows? Do they spend time in coffee shops?

The whole point is to intimately understand your target audience so you can reach them with the right message in the right place at the right time. If you’re currently shooting shotgun spray, imagine getting to know your target audience as slowly narrowing that spray until your shot is becoming hyper-focused on a bullseye (for more hands-on help determining your target audience subscribe to the Jumpstart Artist Podcast).

What are some practical ways you can begin to zero-in on the above things about your target audience?

  1. Use your intuition. You likely have a style, and that style narrows down your target audience. If you paint animals, intuition would tell you your target audience are likely animal lovers of some sort. If you paint nature landscapes, your target audience might be outdoorsy, nature lovers. If you paint art that addresses a social issue in the world, your target audience are likely people who share a passion about that issue. Who would resonate with your art?
  2. Look at historical buyers and fans. One of the most accurate gauges you have for your target audience are people who have actually pulled the trigger and purchased your art in the past. Who are they? Why did they buy your art? If you don’t know, ask them. Have conversations. Do the same with people who have been fans of your work and expressed their interest. What are the common characteristics all of these people share and how does that help you focus on a target audience in the future?
  3. Look at the audience of artists with a similar style or message. Find artists who are similar to you and assess their audience. Who follows them on social media? Who frequents their shows or buys their art? How are they marketing to their audience? You might be able to find ways to collaborate with these artists to share each others’ audiences in a way that is mutually beneficial.

There is so much more that goes into understanding your target audience so you can find them and reach them with the right message. Unfortunately, a blog post can only cover a small part of this process as it is highly dependent on the specifics of your art and personality. My hope is the above, at the very least, helps you get in the right mindset to start reaching your target audience.

Again, if you want more hands-on help understanding your target audience, subscribe to the Jumpstart Artist Podcast. We’re spending all of our energy teaching you how to build a business around your art and talking with successful artists about how they’ve done just that. Feel free to email me any questions at [email protected] and I’d love to dive in a little further.

Jumpstart artist podcast